Rockin’ Women Wednesdays – Mary Pinzone

At the heart of every great town is a great market. And at the heart of that market is a great trader, someone who captures your attention with their verve, vigour and veracity. At the Byron Farmers’ Market I flocked to Mary “Pinny” Pinzone like a moth to a flame. No doubt it’s also her flaming chilli blends the beamed a magnetic force that beat my initial path to her stall.

Since then, I never leave our local market without a jar of her finest chilli relish. So good in fact, that I led my mate Matt Preston directly to her door last time he was in town. Mary’s eyes lit up like a pinball machine! The beauty of watching her share her scrumptious life under the lid with him was a joy to behold – and for good reason – Pinny’s hot stuff is the bomb. I have recently given up on making sambal, relying on her blend to get me through each week. So if you find yourself up this way on a Thursday, be sure to drop into Pinny’s stall at the market and checkout her goodness in glass. Make sure you snaffle a few extra for your mates, or a secret stash just for you – ‘cos I ain’t sharing mine!



Meet Pinny

Even though most of my working life was office orientated and based in Melbourne, my secondary work involved being in restaurants and working in each and every department – front of house, bar, coffee station, cold larder, paymaster and maitre’d.   This prompted my willingness to embark on a 3 year full time study stint at the William Angliss Institute to gain my Diploma of Business in Hospitality Management.   Everything I studied there stood me in good stead during my time in Melbourne as well as my most recent business venture.

After a belated “midlife” crisis, I decided to leave the hustle and bustle of Melbourne, and relocate to the Northern Rivers where I purchased a 2.5 acre property in Ballina.

Rural life was totally different to anything I had ever experienced before, and the first 12 months proved to be a challenging but exhilarating time. My partner and I planted a number of native and fruit trees as well as vegetables for our own enjoyment

This interest gradually grew to the point where I was “value adding” to crops I was growing.   Chillies were converted to Sambel Oelek or Thai Green Curry Paste or Chilli Relish. Eggplants were transformed into Brinjal (Indian Style Eggplant pickle). Mangos became Mango Chutney, basil was transformed into pesto and the list just kept evolving.

In that first year of being in Ballina, I happened to be in Bangalow, where a group of people were trying to generate interest in having a “growers” market in the area. I became part of the steering committee of what is today the Byron Bay Farmers Market. I was fortunate to be one of the twelve foundation members to open our first market in December 2002.   The market now boasts approx. 70 stall holders, all producing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, eggs, rice, nuts etc. I have been an active member of the Committee ever since.

The Byron Farmers Market celebrated its 10th birthday in 2012 by launching a recipe book to showcase the abundance and versatility of our regional foods. My recipe for Eggplant Pickle and Thai Fish Cakes were featured in the book.


Pinny’s Thai Fish Cakes 

420g can best quality, sustainable tuna, or preferably grab some fresh fish, skinned & boned
1 carrot, grated
1 capsicum, finely chopped
1 zucchini, grated
1 tub Pinny’s Thai green chilli paste
2/3 cup dried breadcumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten


  • Drain the fish well.
  • Squeeze excess moisture from vegetables by hand.
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  • Form into patties and shallow fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.
  • Finish in a moderately hot oven for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with a light salad or steamed vegetables.

A few questions for Pinny

What’s your survival food when you’re working late in your business?
My survival food when traveling or working late is apples, chopped roughly and mixed with macadamia or cashew nuts, and sultanas. Crisp, crunchy and sweet. Yummy!! 

What’s your healthy go-to comfort food – either at home or in a restaurant?
My “go-to” comfort food at home is pasta – specifically the peasant version of spaghetti with broccoli. Simple, easy to prepare and totally satisfying

Do you have a secret remedy that keeps you in shape?
My remedy for keeping in shape is a brisk 40 minute walk to the South Ballina Beach, five mornings a week. Whilst working inside, I really enjoy listening to classical musical and in particular, Italian opera.

What’s the most obscure patron’s request you’ve ever heard?
I have had innumerable obscure requests from patrons over the years – tomato jam, gamma pie, pesto without garlic or nuts!!!

Get more of Pinny’s goodness here:

Mary Pinzone
Pinny’s Products
136 Keith Hall Lane, Sth Ballina 2478
Tel: 02 6681 6473
Mob: 0448 816 000

Love this? You might also like Sample Food Festival
Saturday 5th September, Bangalow Showgrounds





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